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Private Internet Access (PIA VPN) Review

Strong privacy policy, a tremendous number of useful features and a highly competitive price have made Private Internet Access (PIA) one of the most popular VPN solutions on the market for years.

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Ever since its release in 2010, PIA creators have strived to improve their service increasing its performance, adding unique features and making it a truly user-friendly VPN.

Despite their effort, PIA still has a long way to go to reach the greatness of the leading VPN providers at the moment. Their performance and speed are still not delivering against the competition, their customer support is a bit lacking and they tend to struggle with geo-restricted content.

Still, for the price they charge, PIA is definitely an amazing option with a well-deserved spot among our best VPN services for 2018.

Features

Private Internet Access is a VPN service that really goes all out when it comes to the features.

For starters, you can expect maximum security and Internet freedom with their three strong encryption protocols – OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPSec. These protocols ensure your connection stays impenetrable by anyone trying to spy on your online activity, whether it's your ISP or malicious hackers.

PIA has an impressive number of servers compared to some of the most famous VPN providers. They offer 3076 servers spread across 28 countries and they continuously grow. However, you can't choose your own server, which is a little annoying.

Aside from these essential features, it's worth mentioning that PIA also supports P2P and BitTorrent, includes a SOCKS5 proxy, blocks ads, trackers and malware and allows five simultaneous connections at once.

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What we were disappointed by is PIA's struggle with geo-restrictions. Don't expect you'll be able to stream content on Netflix, Hulu or BBC iPlayer. And if you live or plan to travel to a country with restricted Internet access, like China, PIA will be pretty much useless.

Privacy

PIA offers multiple layers of protection with their extensive encryption methods. They don't only have powerful encryption protocols but also offer several security combinations in their advanced settings that allow you to choose your level of encryption with optimum speed depending on your current needs.

Private Internet Access has a strict zero logs policy which means that they don't monitor or log any of your online activity. A zero logs policy practically ensures all your personal information and everything you do online can never be tracked or shared with a third party.

However, there is a bit of a catch we noticed in their privacy policy. Since they are located in the US, which is one of the Five Eyes countries, they would still have to supply the authorities with information if legally required. They do mention they have an experienced legal team that scrutinizes every subpoena they receive.

PIA representatives also say that they can't disclose the information they don't have and they have proved their zero logs policy in court.

It's also important to say that PIA passed the IPv6 leak test as well as the DNS leak test without any trouble.

Performance

PIA has decent performance statistics, but it still can't compete with other leading VPN providers at the moment. They promise unlimited bandwidth and offer a speed test for every server on their website, which is quite a nice addition.

But when we tested the speeds on several servers, we noticed tremendous differences in speed depending on the server.

First, we tested the US and UK servers and got pretty disappointed with the results. While the New York server had 41.67 Mbps download speed, the London server went even lower with 20.80 Mbps download speed.

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But then we tested the Toronto server and got impressed by its excellent 100.33 Mbps download speed.

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Depending on what you need a VPN for, inconsistent speed may not be a problem for you. Besides, if you find a server with good performance, you will still be able to enjoy a smooth online experience.

User Friendliness

When we started testing the app, we were happy with the interface. Windows client is very simple and easy to navigate. It's packed with features and covers all the basics for the beginner users. Experienced users will love the advanced options where you can set up your own encryption preferences.

We weren't thrilled by the fact that we had to click save every time we changed something in the settings. PIA doesn't save these changes automatically like most other VPN apps do.

When it comes to their customer support, it's also a bit lacking since they advertise a 24/7 support but hardly deliver on the promise. Instead of a live chat, they have a ticket system and you'll have to wait for hours to get a response. Not to be too tough, PIA really does have expert customer support and if you don't mind waiting, you'll get a helpful and informative answer to your question.

Pricing

Pricing is where Private Internet Access out-tops the competition every time. They have excellent pricing plans, all of which are super affordable.

Even their monthly plan standing at $6.95 is one of the lowest on the market, but they also have a super cheap yearly and two-year plan, the latter amounting to $2.91 per month. Definitely a steal considering everything you're getting for your money.

If for some reason, you are not satisfied with their service, they have a 7-day money-back guarantee which makes trying out the app completely risk-free.

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We liked

  • Strong encryption protocols
  • 3076 servers
  • Feature-packed app
  • Excellent price
  • 7-day money-back guarantee
  • DNS & IPv6 leak protection
  • Mace adblocker

We hated

  • Doesn't support Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer
  • Inconsistent speeds
  • Lacking customer support

Verdict

All in all, Private Internet Access is a great VPN service that goes shoulder to shoulder with the biggest names in the industry for a fraction of the price. If you opt for PIA, you will enjoy all the basics that a VPN needs to cover with numerous other handy features.

You may be disappointed by the inconsistent performance and lacking customer support. And you might want to pass on PIA if you were planning on streaming content on Netflix.

In all other cases, you will get an excellent service without breaking the bank.

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Think we missed anything? What's your experience with Private Internet Access? Let us know in the comments below.